Most of us probably associate tears with times of sadness, but based on his years of experience as the best eyelid surgeon in Chicago, Dr. Nathan J. Cohen knows that tears are an incredibly crucial part of your eye’s normal function. Tears keep the eyes moist and help clean dust and dirt out of your eyes, and to do this job properly, a thin layer of tears needs to be present in the eyes at all times.
Keeping your eyes properly moistened is made possible by the tear glands (lacrimal glands) located above each eyeball. These glands supply tear fluid that is wiped across the surface of your eyes each time you blink, much like the wipers that move away rain on your car’s windshield.
The fluid is then pulled through the eye into a small channel in your lower eyelid. The fluid moves through this channel into a small duct on the side of your eye, just below your skin, known as the nasolacrimal duct. This duct drains the fluid into your nasal cavity, making sure the eye doesn’t overflow with tears.
However, if the nasolacrimal duct becomes partially or wholly blocked, your tears cannot drain normally, and you can be left with watery, irritated eyes.
A blocked tear duct is common in newborns, and the condition usually gets better during the first year of life.
As you get older, the tiny openings that drain tears (puncta) may get narrower, causing a blockage.
Chronic infection or inflammation of your eyes, tear drainage system, or nose can cause the tear ducts to become blocked.
An injury to your face can cause bone damage or scarring near the drainage system, disrupting the normal flow of tears through the ducts.
A tumor in the nose or anywhere near the tear drainage system can cause a blockage.
Disorders that cause swelling in the body can increase the risk of developing a blocked tear duct.
On rare occasions, long-term medications, such as eye drops used to treat glaucoma, can cause a blocked tear duct.
A blocked tear duct is a possible side effect of chemotherapy and radiation treatment for cancer.
Because your tears are not draining as they should, the tears in the system can become stagnant. That condition promotes the growth of viruses and fungi that can lead to recurrent inflammation and eye infections.
Any part of the tear drainage system, including the clear membrane over the eye – the conjunctiva – can become inflamed or infected because of a blocked tear duct.
Some tips to reduce the likelihood of infections that can lead to blocked tear ducts include the following:
Wash your hands thoroughly and often and try not to rub your eyes.
Ladies should replace eyeliner and mascara regularly, and never share these cosmetics with others.
If you wear contact lenses, keep them clean according to the recommendations of the manufacturer or your eye care specialist.
The exact treatment will depend on the cause of the symptoms. In mild cases, for example, warm compresses and antibiotics may be the recommended form of treatment. In more severe cases, a surgical procedure known as a dacryocystorhinostomy (DCR) to bypass the tear duct obstruction, may be the more appropriate treatment option.
A dacryocystorhinostomy or DCR is performed by creating a new tear passageway from the corner of the eye to the nose, bypassing the obstruction. A small silicone tube called a stent may be placed temporarily in the new passageway to keep it open during the healing process. In a small percentage of cases, the obstruction is between the eyelid and the nose, and in those cases, in addition to the DCR procedure, it may be necessary to insert a tiny artificial tear drain made of Pyrex glass that allows tears to drain directly from the eye into the nose.
It will be necessary to carefully follow your doctor’s instructions about caring for your eyes, nose, and surgical wound. You may need to take antibiotics to prevent infection, and your doctor may give you instructions about rinsing your nasal cavity.
The area may be a little sore after the procedure, but you should be able to control the discomfort with over-the-counter medications. It is normal to have some bruising around the surgical area, and you should ask your doctor about any activities to avoid during the healing process.
Of course, everyone’s situation is different, and it is difficult to predict exact recovery times. But on average, most patients require 1-2 weeks of recovery before resuming normal daily activities.
You should see a highly trained and experienced physician like Dr. Cohen if you tear constantly for several days or if your eye is repeatedly or continually infected. Remember that a blocked tear duct can be caused by a tumor pressing on the tear drainage system, and early detection can give you more treatment options.
To avoid possible serious complications, we urge you not to hesitate. Contact us today to schedule your initial consultation with Dr. Cohen.
There are many causes of excessive tearing. To understand how you get excessive tears, you need to understand what tears do and how they work.
Tears are an incredibly crucial part of your eye’s normal function. Tears keep the eyes moist and clean of dust and dirt. To do their job, a thin layer of tears need to be present in the eyes at all times.
This is made possible by a small gland above your eye. This gland creates the fluid that makes up tears, and the fluid flows into small channels in your eyelid. These channels distribute the tears over your eye just like a windshield wiper disperses washer fluid over your windshield.
The fluid is then pulled through the eye to a small channel in your lower eyelid. The fluid moves through this channel into a small duct on the side of your eye, just below your skin. This is called the nasolacrimal duct. This duct drains the fluid into your nasal cavity, making sure that the eye doesn’t overflow with tears.
A common cause of excessive tearing is a blocked nasolacrimal duct. This blockage can be caused by a number of things, including aging, trauma, inflammatory conditions, medications and tumors. No matter the cause, when this happens, fluid in your eye has no outlet to drain into, so the tears simply overflow in your eye.
Everybody’s situation is different, and it is difficult to predict exact recovery times. On average, most patients require 1-2 weeks recovery time before they can resume normal daily activities.
Dacryocystorhinostomy, also known as DCR, is the medical term for a surgical procedure that bypasses tear ducts that may be blocked.
The exact treatment will depend on the cause of the symptoms. In mild cases, warm compresses and antibiotics may be recommended. In other cases, surgery to bypass the tear duct obstruction, called a dacryocystorhinostomy (DCR ) may be best.
A DCR is performed by creating a new tear passageway from the corner of the eye to the nose, bypassing the obstruction. A small silicone tube called a stent may temporarily be placed in the new passageway to keep it open during the healing process. In a small percentage of cases, the obstruction is between the eyelid and the nose.
In these cases, in addition to the DCR procedure, it may be necessary to insert a tiny artificial tear drain made of Pyrex glass and allow tears to drain directly from the eye into the nose.
There are other possible treatments available, as well. The right treatment for you will depend on your unique situation and your medical history. If you have excessive tearing, the best course of action would be to arrange a free consultation with Dr. Cohen so that he can assess the situation and review your options with you.
If you are interested in learning more about cheek implants, contact Dr. Cohen today to schedule a consultation. He will listen to your goals and concerns and help you decide if this procedure is right for you. Call (847) 834-0390 to get started!